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The ABC’s battle of numbers

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MASERU – WHOSE is bigger, mine or yours? This seems to be the question that factions in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party are trying to settle and crowds matter.
Factionalism is coming to a head in the ABC, where a battle for numbers is in full swing.
Two rallies held on Sunday – one in Likhoele, Mafeteng and another in Ha-Foso in Berea – underlined the deepening chasm as the factions battle to outwit each other.

The party, formed 15 years ago, was holding two competing rallies on the same day, with the two factions seemingly keen to use attendance numbers to prove their strength.
A faction believed to be aligned to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane pulled all stops to ensure that the party leader had enough numbers at his Likhoele rally to bolster his clout as the party’s ultimate Godfather.
A rival faction was holding a rally on the same day in Ha-Foso, where Berea constituency MP Motlatsi Maqelepo was the guest speaker.

Maqelepo is seen as a front for the embattled newly elected national executive committee and the faction led by Nqosa Mahao.
Mahao has been in Thabane’s crosshairs and was recently called “a rag that is blown away by the wind” by the Prime Minister.

The two factions announced their rallies a week before Sunday. Mahao’s faction said the Ha-Foso rally was just a constituency gathering meant to address local problems. But that was enough to give Thabane’s faction goose bumps that his went all the way to ensure that the Prime Minister’s Likhoele rally turned out bigger.
Thabane’s backers could not afford the embarrassment of a national leader drawing a smaller crowd than Mahao’s faction.

So, buses were hired and free food was provided for people attending Thabane’s rally in Likhoele.
Thabane’s faction (termed State House Team) went to the Maseru factories where workers were promised free meals and transport to Likhoele.
ABC Secretary General Samonyane Ntsekele speaking on one local radio station last weekend said the party had sourced funds to make Thabane’s rally a success.
Free transport to Likhoele was part of that plan, he said. Close to 40 buses from as far as Butha-Buthe ferried people to Likhoele, where the rally turned out to be hugely successful.
Ntsekele said the Mafeteng constituencies would be given priority over other constituencies.
At the Prime Minister’s rally, mouth-watering promises were made to the factory workers who had gathered in their numbers to hear Thabane speak.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Mokhotlong constituency Tefo Mapesela, who is also the Minister of Defence, said the factory workers should not panic over the 0% salary adjustment for civil servants. Mapesela said the salaries were determined by the Wages Advisory Board.
He told the factory workers that they deserved to earn as much as M3 000 each per month.
In Ha-Foso, the rally was also well attended, although in ABC tradition no party member should organise a rally that clashes with a gathering addressed by the party leader.

Apart from this tradition, the newly elected national executive committee and the outgoing one have been ordered by the High Court not to execute any major decisions pending finalisation of the legal battle over the control of the party.
The old committee was ordered to control party administrative issues only while the court determines whether the new committee was properly elected.
But that has not stopped the factions from sizing each other up, as the battle for control intensifies.
Before last week’s competing rallies, a similar situation happened two weeks ago when the party held two gatherings, one in Lithabaneng and another in Qeme.

The Qeme rally was the first to be announced but shortly after that some senior party officials said a separate rally was being planned for Lithabaneng. Many viewed this as part of the internal struggle for power.
Word spread in Maseru that Thabane, as party leader, would attend the Qeme rally.
It was also expected that senior party officials opposed to the newly elected national executive committee would attend the Qeme rally.

However when Thabane did not attend, party supporters in Qeme asked their MP Nkaku Kabi why the Prime Minister was absent. In the words of one supporter: “We hoped that he would be here so that we ask him questions about the promises he has failed to fulfill”.
The Qeme rally had less than 100 people in attendance.
Many ABC supporters were seen passing by the Qeme ground where Kabi was to hold the rally going to Lithabaneng where supporters of the new executive committee were waiting.
Kabi waited for an hour from the advertised kick off time hoping the crowd would swell before addressing the rally as people trickled in.

When thepost arrived, the VIP was already set up but for nearly three hours the only people at the rally venue were a reporter from thepost and two women from the constituency.
When the rally finally began, the VIP seats quickly filled but the messages beamed via a powerful public address system were broadcast to a largely empty football ground.

Majara Molupe

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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